Review of ‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’

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Title: ‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’
Author: Pamela Rushby
Publisher: Walker Books
Age Range: 9+, middle primary, upper primary, lower secondary, middle grade.
Themes: Victorian England, Egypt,  Egyptology, ancient civilisations, historical fiction, mystery, adventure, fantasy, family, adoption.
Publisher Teachers’ Notes: available here

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When talking to me about her latest book, Pamela Rushby said “I wrote the kind of book I wanted to read when I was eleven”. Well she absolutely nailed it. ‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’ has captivated my nine year old and my twelve year old, I adored it, and I have ordered multiple copies for my school library as I just know it will be one of those books that is never on the shelves.

1873 England. Orphaned Hattie goes to live with her great uncle and aunt in their crumbling castle in the English Fens. There, Great Aunt Iphigenia hosts flamboyant mummy-unwrapping parties to save her home from ruin – until the mummy supply runs out. On a dangerous search for more, a thousand miles up the Nile, Hattie is haunted by these ancient souls and tries to free them with unexpected consequences.

Pamela Rushby writes some of the best historical fiction for young readers but in ‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’ she really doubles down on this, setting herself the challenge of writing about Victorian England and Egypt…and then throwing in a smattering of fantasy (oh those kittens!) just to really shake things up. In the hands of a less capable writer, the whole thing could have been a shambles! Fortunately Pamela Rushby has over 200 books under her belt (keyboard?) and ‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’ is one of the most delightfully decadent and utterly fascinating books I’ve come across in some time.

Rushby clearly has a deep love of historical research and while this is a work of fiction, she deftly weaves curious and sometimes even downright bizarre facts throughout the narrative. After all, truth is sometimes even stranger than fiction.

We study several of Pamela Rushby’s books at school as they often fit curriculum descriptors and her writing is sophisticated enough to satisfy English staff but engaging enough (and sometimes gruesome enough!) to hook in readers of all persuasions. Before I was even halfway through this latest novel I had texted a few colleagues to tell them I had a great class read aloud or class novel study for them, and my review copy is highlighted and annotated with ideas for sharing it with classes. Rushby clearly understands what educators are looking for in a book and also what will engage and entertain her target readership.

‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’ is highly recommend reading and I sincerely hope we see more of Hattie in the future. The perfect book gift for readers from 9-90 who have inquiring minds, a love of unusual world history and enjoy the utter escapism of a truly great story.


‘The Mummy Smugglers of Crumblin Castle’


By the same author:

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‘Flora’s War’

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